FROM THE RECTOR
If you have attended an annual meeting of All Souls Parish in the past several years, you are likely aware of a practice that I enjoy: reading from the annual reports of All Souls from 50 and 25 years ago.
Every year it is amazing to me to read of the life and times of those who lived by faith so that we can do so as well. Sometimes their lives were very different. For instance, when the stewardship chair in the early 1960’s was searching for a metaphor as to how much one could give weekly to the parish, they seized upon the amount of how much one spends on their packs of cigarettes. I suppose you could argue that in 50 years we’ve switched out one stimulant for another—caffeine for nicotine.
And often, it is stunning to see that the issues we struggle with right now, in the current year, have bedeviled All Soulsians for decades. It seems that every year, we struggle with the parts of our buildings that have unexpectedly failed, or that the choir could use just a few more voices.
Ironically, for some reason, the annual reports of 1967 and 1992 seem to be missing from our parish archives, so our Archivist is presently hard at work, trying to find other documents from those years so that we can have a sense of what life was like on the corner of Cedar and Spruce at that time.
As we enter times that are beyond many people’s experience, I have found it really helpful to learn about those who have preceded us, both in what they faced (fear during the flu epidemic of 1918, or the tremendous difficulty of the Great Depression in the 1930s, or the unrest and uncertainty of the late 1960s), and the ways that they faced it. It often serves to give me heart, that ancient definition of courage, knowing that others have come up against events that have tried them, and that they have found the faith to persevere.
I recently came across a phrase that was illuminating for me. One of the professors at my alma mater, the Rev. Dr. Clair McPherson, is translating the work of a 5th century theologian that up to this point has not been translated into English. Take that in for a moment. In one sense, Nilus of Ancyra’s writings have been dormant for English readers, waiting for hundreds of years to be translated so that we might read them. Writing from what is current-day Turkey, his words are speaking again, clearly, for he writes,
“History is not a chain holding us back. Rather it is a vine, nourishing us into the future.”
The nourishment of this vine comes from the witnesses of those who led people into life and freedom and justice. And sometimes the nourishment we receive comes in the form of stories of resistance that didn’t turn the tide, but remained faithful regardless. And, we are fed by knowing of the ordinary persistence that people have shown, day by day, week by week, year by year.
As anyone who has researched their family history can attest, the reason that we look back is that it helps us understand who we are now. And in better understanding who we are, we can have a better sense of who we might be. It does not mean that we are “doomed to repeat it,” but it we don’t know what has happened before us, then it is much more likely that we will stumble into the very same traps that beset our predecessors.
For me, it helps to know that what we are experiencing in the moment, whether it be the moment of this parish or the moment of this nation, is not without precedent. As has been attributed to Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat, but it sure does rhyme.” When we remember where we’ve been, even it the footsteps we observe aren’t our own, we can better navigate the uncertainty of the path ahead.
As Christians, the breadth and depth of those who have followed the ways of Christ in times of want and in times of plenty is a repository that can nourish and sustain us even in times of challenge like these. And for us at All Souls Parish, living out our lives on the corner of Cedar and Spruce for these 112 years, the witness is real and inspiring.
So, come. Gather with All Soulsians of this day and age on Sunday at 10:10 am in our Parish Hall. Join to be fed from this vine once more.
Simple, Life-giving Service
Meals & Rides Ministry
When I was first looking for a new church home, I was immediately drawn to All Souls when I saw on the website that they have a program that offers rides to parishioners on Sundays and to appointments. In my years of church-going, I had never seen a congregation with a program like this! Since my vision impairment prevents me from driving, this was a huge gift to know I could avoid taking the bus as much and have support of a church family.
There have been times that I have requested a ride through this program and not only was it helpful to have a reliable form of transportation but the conversations we had in the car were life-giving and formed a bond between us. I have also been the recipient of the meals program when my family was preparing for my father’s memorial service and could not bear to also cook for everyone that came into town the night before. So amazing members of All Souls brought us delicious meals that fed our stomachs and souls.
After receiving such generous care, I am honored to take on the coordinating role of the Meals and Rides program at All Souls. Alisa Hofmann has coordinated this program in the past with grace and compassion. I hope to continue that same service.
Even if you do not have time to cook or give someone a ride, there are so many other ways you could help. For example, since I can’t drive and I don’t like to cook, I have used numerous apps on my phone to provide care for others. Ways such as using a delivery app such as GrubHub or DoorDash to order someone a meal and have it delivered to their address. Or, using Uber or Lyft to coordinate and pay for a ride for a friend by contacting the driver to tell them the name of the passenger. In addition, the All Souls website has many resources people can use to find transportation and voucher programs.
So, if the events of life get in the way and you would appreciate a meal or ride, contact me for the care so many of our members are eager to provide. Or, if you would like to join a team of caregivers, contact me. Everyone interested is put on a team which is on call on a rotating basis a few months a year to provide meals or rides when requests arise. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make a request and/or join a team. Thank you for your participation in this vital ministry at All Souls!
– Erin Horne
From the Appreciative Inquiry Leadership Group
God Is Not Elsewhere
That’s according to St. Benedict, and it’s the guiding principle behind our current Appreciative Inquiry process. If God is here, and the Spirit is moving, inviting, guiding, how do we know? What does that look like?
In order to better understand these essential questions, parishioners are meeting in small groups, mostly on Sundays, and telling our stories to each other. As a participant, you’ll have an opportunity to reflect on times when you’ve felt most alive and engaged as a member of All Souls. How do you find Jesus here? How have others experienced their faith?
By sharing our individual experiences, we can see the many unique ways that God has touched each of us. Sitting in a circle last Sunday, listening to responses, I was moved by the varieties of experiences, all the manifold ways we connect to God and each other. The Spirit became alive through story, as It lives in us each day, and your own shared story can be a gift and a catalyst to our community. By noticing the ways the Spirit has moved among us, we better discern a life-giving path, moving forward. The group itself was a mustard seed-moment, full of potential. Gathered and attentive, we are witness to the power of the Holy to touch and move us in common yet profound ways. What is God inviting us into? How will we respond?
By prayerfully collating data, of course. After collecting experiences from each small group, the Appreciative Inquiry Leadership Group will look at all of the notes to uncover themes that emerge. These findings will go to the vestry for further discernment and planning purposes. Appreciative Inquiry incorporates four steps: choose a focus for inquiry; inquire into stories of life-giving focus; locate themes and select areas for further development; find innovative ways to create that future. What is God calling us to? Where is God moving?
In case you’re still mystified by the process, I’ll admit that a newsletter article cannot fully communicate the beauty and force of the Holy Spirit unleashed by or upon a group of faithful seekers. Perhaps the poet Mary Oliver says it best: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
So please join us by signing up for a small group here.
– Madeline Feeley for the Appreciative Inquiry Leadership Group
(Anne Cockle, Gretchen Donart, Sheryl Fullerton, Howard Perdue, Martha Perdue, and Raymond Yee)
WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS
In early December, we welcomed many new members into the All Souls family. Today and in the coming weeks, we’ll hear from them.
Hello All Souls! We are Kyle and Rebecca Peacock and we’re so excited to have finally become members here. A little about us – Kyle and I met in the year of 2014 while we were both study abroad in our junior year of college. I (Rebecca) am originally from Pennsylvania while Kyle grew up in Walnut Creek. We dated while in Oxford and decided to continue our relationship long distance through our senior year of college. Once we both graduated, I moved out to California. We were engaged and married a little over a year later on July 9 of 2016.
We were recommended All Souls by the rector who married us up in Davis, CA. We attended one Sunday in January of 2016 and never looked back.
I (Rebecca) am working at Gap Inc. as part of the corporate catering division. Hobbies include reading and various forms of needle crafts, as well as baking.
Kyle is seeking work in San Francisco/ Silicon Valley tech. He loves to hack various gadgets, cook, and play video games.
We’re both looking forward to getting to know more of the All Souls community!”
Notes on Annual Meeting
Please come to our Annual Meeting this Sunday, January 29th, at 10:10 am in the Parish Hall. Sunday School will not be meeting, but childcare will be available on the courtyard. The Annual Report is now available in digital form here. We will have limited print copies available on Sunday morning, but encourage you to read it digitally if possible.
Creating a Rule of Life
COOKIE MAKING PARTY
Happy St. Valentine’s Day: Let’s make cookies! Join us on Sunday, February 5 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm in the Parish Hall for fabulous intergenerational fun! Bring your kids. Bring your neighbors. Bring your grandparents. We will bake cookies to eat, cookies to take home, and cookies to serve to our guests a the Open Door Dinner. All supplies provided.
BIG DATES IN 2017
Wondering about the parish camping trip to Big Sur? The Parish Retreat? Our summer day camp? Here is a list of the major events in 2017 that you can add to your calendar.
ONE BOOK, ONE PARISH
In summer 2017, All Souls members will read one book and come together each week to discuss it from different perspectives. During January and February, the Adult Formation Committee invites your nominations for the book we’ll all read. Books may be fiction or non-fiction.
Nomination forms and a box for submissions are available at the back of the chapel and in the narthex outside the main worship space. Or submit your nomination online here.
Nominations are due Sunday, February 26.
Join us on Sunday, January 29 at 10:10 am for All Souls’ 113th Annual Meeting of the Congregation. Come and find out what we’ve been up to the last year: our people, our parish, our joys and celebrations. We’ll gather for a time of light refreshments, elect our new vestry and deanery representatives, hear interesting historical facts from the rector, and honor those who have gone above and beyond in service this last year. All are welcome.